Morocco vs Ukraine, Thursday, May 31 19:00 BST/20:00 CEST Stade de Geneve, Geneva, Switzerland
As several teams begin to prepare for the World Cup later this month, Morocco will take on Ukraine in Sion, Switzerland. The anticipation of this year’s tournament, however, is very different between these two sides.
Morocco, which qualified for its first World Cup since 1998, will be very excited to return to the world’s most prestigious and most viewed competition. While competing in the Confederation of African Football’s World Cup qualification, Morocco flew through their group. After their six matches, the Atlas Lions went undefeated and did not concede a single goal. Their impressive performances against Ivory Coast, Gabon and Mali secured their place for the competition this summer.
While they performed well during the CAF qualification period, however, their World Cup group will be anything but smooth sailing. The Atlas Lions were placed in Group B with Portugal, Spain and Iran. Given the similarities in the style of play between Portugal and Ukraine, it is believed Morocco will use this match as a mock trial in anticipation of facing the Navigators on June 20.
Ukraine, on the other hand, will loathe their missed opportunity to feature in this year’s competition. Following the dreadful exit at the Euros in 2016, the Yellow-Blues have sought to rebuild their squad under Andriy Shevchenko. While they performed well during the UEFA World Cup qualification, they were unable to break down their Icelandic and Croatian opposition in their group, and hence did not qualify for the competition.
Nonetheless, Shevchenko may seek to start a strong, experienced side to help his players prepare for the upcoming UEFA Nations League later this fall.
Morocco vs Ukraine – Players to Watch:
Romain Saïss #6 – Morocco (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Wolverhampton Wanderers won the 2017/18 English Championship, and hence will compete in the English Premier League next season. Saïss played a major role in his side earning promotion to England’s top division, as the defender helped his side to 24 clean sheets this season. With his club form in mind, the Moroccan international will hope to replicate his performances at the international level.
Oleksandr Zinchenko #17 – Ukraine (Manchester City)
The young Ukrainian player an important role this season as Manchester City won both the 2017/18 Premier League and the EFL Cup. While his game time was limited, Zinchenko has developed significantly under Pep Guardiola. Having played as a make-shift left back and as an attacking midfielder, the Ukrainian’s versatility serves as an important strength for his national team.
Morocco vs Ukraine – Match Stats
- This is the first match between Morocco and Ukraine.
- This is Morocco’s fifth appearance in a World Cup. Their last appearance in the competition was in 1998, where they were eliminated in the group stage.
- Ukraine’s only appearance in the World Cup was in 2006, where the Yellow-Blues were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Italy, the eventual winners of the competition.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Morocco vs Ukraine – 2-1
Morocco vs Ukraine – Possible Lineups
Mohamedi – Dirar, da Costa, Saïss, Hakimi – El Ahmadi, Fajr, Harit, Amrabat – El Kaabi, Boutaïb
Manager: Hervé Renard
Pyatov – Matviyenko, Shabanov, Ordets, Butko – Stepanenko, Zinchenko – Yarmolenko, Marlos, Konoplyanka – Besyedin
Manager: Andriy Shevchenko
Mark Temnycky is a Ukrainian-American who earned a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in June 2017. He is pursuing a career in international relations and foreign policy. Follow Mark on Twitter @MTem33